Please do not read this article as legal advice. It has been written to offer argument and generalised information. If you would like to speak to someone about your drink driving charges, please contact us.
One of the questions we are most commonly asked is whether a lawyer is a necessity when going to court for charges of drink/drug driving.
A lawyer isn’t just your representative in court; they’re also your guide to the judicial system. A popular misconception is that a court appearance is a formality and that the outcome has already, at least to some extent, been decided. However, the presiding judge will make decisions based on the merits of the case and individual circumstances. Deciding to plead guilty or not guilty, or present your case in a certain way can have unexpected consequences depending on the nature of the charges.
But I’m Just Going to Plead Guilty
This is often a sensible move, but have you thought about what happens next? You may be disqualified from driving for a minimum period of one month, and a conviction may be recorded against you. This may mean that you will have to declare a conviction to future employers and that traffic conviction may appear on background checks. Also, remember that drugs offences are indictable in countries like the United States, and could affect your travel plans.
Isn’t Driving Under the Influence a Traffic Offence and Not as Important as Criminal Offences?
It depends. You will have a conviction on your record which future employers and government agencies will be made aware of. You need to consider whether this matters to you – will a future employer hire you or somebody else if you have a conviction? Will you be granted a travel visa? These are the things you need to discuss with your lawyer and your family.
What are the Mandatory Minimum Penalties?
There are mandatory minimum disqualification periods for drink/drug driving offences. They range from 1 month disqualification for a low range drink driving, and can go as high as indefinite disqualifications. As well as the disqualification period, you will also be fined, ordered to undertake probation or community service, or even gaoled. This is why a lawyer is crucial; they will provide you with the building blocks to prepare yourself, and ensure you receive the best possible outcome. They are also your mouthpiece in court, trained and highly skilled in advocacy.
Can I Apply for a Work Licence?
You can, but it’s not as simple as filling in a form. A work licence enables those who need a vehicle to maintain their employment to obtain a restricted licence. The license will only allow you to drive for work associated travel, and will be implemented for a period equal or more to a disqualification.. However, you will need to prove to the court that a loss of license for anytime will cause severe financial hardship. There are also strict eligibility guidelines, which must be followed for a successful application. In other words, you can’t count on it.
I’m Going to Plead Not Guilty
Then you need to ensure that you have obtained proper legal advice. A firm prepares a case and gets you a lawyer as soon as possible. Your legal counsel will determine whether you have a defence and help you understand your rights and obligations,and fight t your case in court..
As you can see, a drink driving charge is not as simple as it may appear. Going to court without being aware of the implications of your decisions can be disastrous and have long-term ramifications. Talk to your family about what is important and speak to a lawyer to find out what may be possible.
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